Mandatory Mask-Wearing Order To Be Lifted Soon

The Public Health Ministry is expected to lift the face mask rules and cancel related fines in the next two to three weeks, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) said.

According to the DDC’s Director-General Thares Krasnairawiwong, the Communicable Diseases Committee (NCDC) has completed a draft of the announcement, which does not require Cabinet consideration but the Public Health Minister’s endorsement only.

The move, which comes less than a month after the government canceled the emergency decree due to the pandemic, reflects that the Covid-19 risk has been decreasing.

Once the announcement is endorsed, the process for it to be effective could take two to three weeks, Dr. Thares said.

Under an administrative order issued by provincial governors to limit the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic, all Thai visitors and residents were required to wear face masks.

Those who violated the order were subject to fines of up to 6,000 baht, with up to 20,000 baht for repeat offenders, although courts could reduce the amounts depending on the circumstances.

Dr. Thares said that the Public Health Ministry has also started working on three bills on financial compensation that can help the country deal with future outbreaks of communicable diseases.

The first bill considers the compensation that can be granted to members of the general public who are affected by prevention and control measures.

Such compensations could cover medical expenses, property damage, physical therapy, and loss of income. The DDC’s director-general clarified that the committee would handle payments below 100,000 baht, but claims exceeding the amount would be in the hands of the NCDC.

The second bill contemplates compensation for medical workers or public health officials who contract the disease while working and covers death, serious illness, and disability.

Finally, the third draft enables the DDC to demand compensation from those who do not comply with disease control and prevention orders within a given period, generating national expenses.

The laws will not have a retroactive effect. Dr. Thares explained.

Meanwhile, the Budget Bureau approved an 11.5-billion-baht budget to cover hazard pay and risk allowances for doctors and health workers exposed to diseases during the pandemic.

Another allocation of 384 million baht for vaccination campaigns has also been approved.